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Whitney Awards, Conference, and Good Stuff

I have never been speechless in my entire life. Never. Not once that I can recall. I think I was born talking. My dad used to take me to his business stuff and military stuff when I was incredibly small because I had a huge vocabulary and absolutely no fear of using it. He liked showing off the baby who spoke in full sentences even before she had enough hair to qualify her as a girl. Seriously. Never. Speechless.

Until Saturday night.

I had not allowed myself to prepare any kind of acceptance speech if Cross My Heart should win the Whitney Award. Any time my mind wandered in that direction, I immediately yanked it back. After my freakish month of feeling wretched, I wasn’t emotionally up to disappointment. I’d read the other finalists. They were good. I closed one in particular and thought to myself, “She is definitely going to win.” But it didn’t really bother me to think I’d lost. I attributed it to their excellence, rather than my mediocrity. Good books should win. And that was okay with me.

So I went to the conference feeling surprisingly normal. A lot of that normal feeling stemmed from the fact that I FINALLY finished Hazzardous Universe Book 2 and got it turned in to my illustrious editor, Kirk Shaw. Getting the book done and in, and feeling good about the end result of that product, went a long way toward feeling normal. The conference went well, meeting up with friends, and making a few new ones, went a long way toward normal as well.

And then Saturday night happened. I wore black . . .  because that’s what I do, found my seat with wonderful online friends that I pretty much only see once a year, picked at my food, and listened to the opening statements. It started so quickly. The romance category was announced first, and it seems I had barely enough time to blink as I wrenched my cloth napkin in my hands and felt my legs turn to water.

Then they were announcing my name . . . the title of MY book. My brain froze. I couldn’t process the words, yet my emotions experienced no such freezing as I immediately melted into a snotty, sodden mess of waterfall. Had they really called *my* name? I knew I had to go up there, but my legs wouldn’t move. Mr. Wright had to tap me and remind me to walk to the stage.

People talk about slow motion where every breath inhaled and exhaled feels as though they mark the passing of minutes rather than fractions of seconds. Where the time in which every step forward seems monitored by hours. I can’t really remember the walk to the platform and the microphone, but it felt like it took forever. I remember the hugs from the people who announced the award for the 2010 Romance category. Sheila, Shanda, and Mindy were hugging on me and crying right along with me.

And then I turned and faced the podium, stepped up to the microphone, and experienced the impossible.

I was speechless. It wasn’t just about having nothing to say. I literally could not get the air to flow past my pipes to create sound. I made some odd orangutan movements, squawked like some mental bird, and looked pretty silly in general before the words finally came.

Granted, the words were rendered difficult to understand through the blubbering and squawking. And, granted, they weren’t all that brilliant, or poignant, or entertaining, or even well thought out.

But at least they did show up.

It was a humbling experience, and I still feel a little weepy (absurd . . . I know), and I still feel a little giddy. And that beautiful award shaped like a book that really opens and closes and has my name and title etched into its perfect acrylic face looks absolutely stunning on my bookshelf.

My daughter reminded me today that when I first bought that particular bookcase, I remarked how well a Whitney Award would look on it.

I love being right.

Thank you, Kirk, for being such an amazing editor. I don’t think it’s a coincidence that the first three winners were your authors. Thank you, Josi, for the incredible work you put into the awards this year and the work you’ll have to put in next year. Last weekend Josi Kilpack, Heather Moore, Annette Lyon, and I spent the weekend in a hotel together so we could work on a series we’re writing together. Heather, Annette, and I were finalists. Josi knew the results. And she didn’t say a thing. She didn’t so much as breathe a clue in our direction as to how things had turned out.  She should get an award for THAT. It’s pretty amazing that each of the four of us have one of these awards now. What an amazing group of friends I am so lucky to have in my life. Thank you, Covenant, for being such a great publisher, for standing behind me in all the things I write, and for being so amazing to work with.

Thank you to the academy of bookstore owners, reviewers, publishers, and storymakers who voted. My smile muscles obviously need more exercise because they still hurt, and my eyes still feel a bit blurry from all the camera flashbulbs, and I still feel genuinely loved from all those hugs. Thank you, everyone. Thank you.

Here is the list of award winners:

Outstanding Achievement Award
Rick Walton

Lifetime Achievement Award
Susan Evans McCloud

Best General

Best Historical

Best Mystery/Suspense

Best Romance

Best Speculative

Best Youth—General

Best Youth—Speculative

Best by New Author

Novel of the Year (Tie)

Congratulations to all the winners!

And Congratulations to all those eating “loser pie” and snapping silly pictures. A part of me hated not being able to join in on those pictures. You are all amazing writers and there is nothing loser about that group . . . not even remotely. Though I still love the joke of the pie 🙂

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13 Responses
  1. I can not tell you just how thrilled I was to read off your name! The look on your face of true amazement and then joy brought me to tears. I am so happy that this happened to you. This award is so well deserved. Love you Julie!!

  2. Melanie Jacobson says:

    This was a well-deserved win. That is AWESOME.

  3. Kristina P. says:

    Yay! I am thrilled for you! Two of my favorite authors won!

  4. That is so wonderful Julie! Congratulations!

  5. Mindy Holt says:

    Words can’t describe how cool it was to announce your name Saturday night. You are such an amazing gal! I not only love your writing, but your awesome attitude and energy too. What a great blog post :). Need to see you soon so u can sign my “Hazardous Universe” :). Congrats again!

  6. Shari Bird says:

    Congratulations Julie. No one deserves it more.

  7. Kimberly says:

    How I wish I got to see you more than once a year! And I’m still grinning periodically over your win. I love when people I love get the recognition they deserve. Congratulations again!

  8. Annette says:

    The look on your face was absolutely priceless. I’m so proud of you, Jules–and thrilled to call you friend!

  9. Cheri Chesley says:

    This is so cool! One of the reasons I wanted to go to the Gala so badly this year. Not because I knew anything, but because of the fun of watching some of my favorite people win well-deserved awards! I can’t speak for Josi, but I know I would have kept quiet at the writing retreat just so I could savor the look on your face when they announced your name as the winner at the banquet. 🙂 Congrats, Julie!

  10. Shanda :) says:

    Sweet, wonderful Julie. What an honor it was to announce your name as winner. I will always treasure being a part of your special moment! I wouldn’t have wanted to be anywhere else than on that stage giving you a hug because you know how much I love you! Congratulations again & again!

  11. Sarah M Eden says:

    It was a fabulous moment, Julie. I was so very proud of you and pleased for you, your book and the romance genre. The entire night was great. And, while we missed you in the “Losers Stuff Their Faces With Cheesecake” picture, we lost you in the best possible way.
    Savor the win. It was much deserved!

  12. Blue says:

    Jules! I was flying all week hence wasn’t able to congratulate you earlier, but I wanted to tell you I’m so very happy for your award. I loved the book, LOVED it! It was so engaging and I really hope there is a sequel! Not surprised you won…I’ve only read Band of Sisters, Way of Kings, Matched and Cross My Heart out of the winners, but look forward to reading the others and have them in my queue. So happy for you! ♥

  13. Dylan Kennedy says:

    Congratulations Julie! It was great to meet you at the Storymakers conference. I really appreciated your workshop.

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